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2023 Highly Anticipated Mecum Auction Report

Are We Doomed or Kickin’ Ass?

by Bandit with photos from Mecum and Micah McCloskey

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Some feel the Las Vegas Mecum Motorcycle Auction is the Devil Incarnate. The money-making desire to flood the market with almost 2000 Vintage motorcycles in an unpredictable inflationary period could destroy the motorcycle industry and return us to where we started—grubby bikers.

Others were excited to find bits and pieces to complete vintage projects. Some wanted to sniff the action for clues to future sales. The Bikernet investigative team, which we can’t name included builders, brokers, collectors, racers and celebrities.

Didn’t experience the crowds this year, but the bids kept coming. Almost ¾ of the inventory was sold.

Here’s the official Mecum Auction Description:

Hosted today by Mecum Auctions, the world’s largest vintage and antique motorcycle auction has been held annually since 1991 in Las Vegas. Returning to South Point Hotel & Casino each January, the long-running auction has more than tripled in size and overall sales totals since Mecum’s acquisition in 2014. In January of 2020 alone, more than 1,540 motorcycles hammered sold in five days for a 90 percent sell-through rate and $22.6 million in overall sales.

Since 2014, Mecum Auctions has maintained status as the world’s top auction house in the offering and selling of vintage and antique motorcycles. After taking a financial stake in MidAmerica Motorcycles, Mecum was able to combine its respected brand and successful auction process with the expertise of the long-established motorcycle-auction company. The combination proved to be a winning one, and motorcycle auction successes have continuously skyrocketed.

Mecum is proud to be a leader in helping these collectible motorcycles achieve the respect and attention they deserve on a nationwide and even worldwide scale. The Mecum motorcycle division is committed to the mission of bringing buyers and sellers together over the shared love of these two-wheeled mechanical masterpieces, and no one does it better.

Back to the Action:

“Prices were all over the place,” said one of our band of reporters. Knuckleheads went soft pricing, while oddities captured the attention and high prices including motor-powered bicycles. Inline four Indians and Hendersons drew over $150,000 and seemingly ordinary ‘60s Hondas gaveled-down at over $65,000.

The record setting bike of the meet was a single cylinder 1908 Harley drawing $850,000, but after commissions that number jumped to $920,000.00, a record for Mecum. The owner bought it for $15.00 decades ago and painstakingly restored it, bit by bit. Plus, 1920s BMWs drew fine prices.

Laura Klock’s new bagger, charity build for her program to help teenage girls pulled only $25,000 and late model V-twin Harleys drew as little as five grand.

So, what does this say about the industry or the economy. One of my reporters pointed an ugly finger at Mecum for not checking the authenticity of motorcycles. More and more vintage components are being manufactured around the world. With a running engine many early bikes can be built from the ground up. Jeff Decker’s fine looking patina Cyclone was a terrific example.

It says a lot about the history currently available to enthusiasts, but that brain trusts are passing on as the brothers age and depart to leave too many unanswered questions.

And don’t dismiss the egos, competition between builders and their valuable relationships with collectors. We followed a 1914 Henderson inline four and received mixed reports. One narrative indicated a very clean restoration with a couple of re-pop parts. Another stated that the only original part was the engine, otherwise all re-pop. Who to believe and what was the final outcome?

Regarding the industry one long-time vintage broker said Mecum indicated a drop in pricing over the next year, which could indicate historically a three-year trend. Doomsday.

One the other hand others are very excited about the future. “It was all up and up,” an undercover agent reported. “Panheads were slightly soft as beautiful restorations drew just $20,000 while old BMWs and ‘60s Jap dirt bikes pulled sizeable bids through the roof.”

Bottom line, there’s still lots of funds the world over. Vintage motorcycles afford any guy the chance to collect something significant from the past and be able display is almost anywhere, unlike cars, boats, and planes. Vintage bikes tell unique, exciting stories and the collector has the ability to see and touch all the inner workings. Hell, you can’t collect watches and be afforded the distinct opportunity to see the guts of every running aspect of a vintage motorcycle.

I know where to spend my money.
I know where to spend my money.

Plus, and this is a major. As technology changes and the drive for electric vehicles increases, the more valuable our historic heritage will become. We all need a piece of motorcycle history to share with our peeps forever more.

And like it’s done in the past, if the electric EV movement blows up, we will be proud to own more ICE motorcycles!


And save the World. It's a blast and whacky forever!
And save the World. It's a blast and whacky forever!

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